Connect Michigan launches new website, continuing battle against ‘Digital Divide’

LANSING — Connect Michigan, the nonprofit dedicated to bringing high-speed internet and related technologies to all people in Michigan, has launched a new website.

Erick Frederick

The organization, a subsidiary of Bowling Green, Ky.-based Connected Nation, says the new site features community resources, broadband data and solutions, and a look at the action plans so far developed in cities and counties across Michigan.

“We’ve been on the ground in Michigan for eight years now,” said Eric Frederick, Connect Michigan executive director. “During that time, we’ve developed technology action plans for both large and small communities — identifying challenges and solutions to expanding broadband specific to their area and needs. Now, we’re very excited to support what Governor Rick Snyder is doing on an even larger scale. He recently formed the Michigan Consortium of Advanced Networks, which will develop a comprehensive roadmap to improve access to broadband services to all people in our state.”

Connect Michigan is providing support and guidance for MCAN by working with the Department of Technology, Management and Budget to develop a state broadband roadmap. This will make it possible for the state to identify areas of need and opportunities and provide community support and planning where it would be most effective.

“What Governor Snyder is doing now will help families and businesses across the Great Lakes State for

Tom Ferree

years to come,” said Tom Ferree, Connected Nation chairman and CEO. “The internet is no longer a privilege, it’s a necessity in our modern world. Without good internet access, you can’t apply for a job. Your children can’t do their homework assignments. You can’t access your health records, start a new company, or connect with loved ones. At Connected Nation, we are constantly looking to become more effective in bringing access to all people and their communities.”

Connect Michigan has partnered with the Michigan Public Service Commission since 2010 and Frederick, along with several other staff members, live and work in the cities and neighborhoods they are helping. This work is focused on finding more people access and leveraging the digital opportunities that can improve their lives, their businesses, and their communities.

“Since 2010, we’ve worked in 54 of Michigan’s 83 counties, involving thousands of stakeholders who are directly impacted by our efforts to expand access, adoption, and use of broadband,” Frederick said. “We’ve come a long way in connecting more of our state, but more work needs to be done, and MCAN is a big step in the right direction toward helping all our families, kids, businesses, farmers, and others become part of a digital world.”

“We believe everyone belongs in a Connected Nation. That’s our mantra,” Ferree said. “Our staff will continue to work tirelessly and evolve as needed until the Digital Divide is closed and no family, small business, farmer, or child is left without access to the opportunities many of us already enjoy.”

On the new website, visitors will find a wide range of resources and ways to access Connected Nation’s experts to help small towns, cities, counties, regions, states, and federal organizations better identify ways to expand broadband to include all people. Those resources can be found at connectednation.org/Michigan and include the following:

* County-level technology action plans specific to each community;
* An interactive tool to track progress and challenges in your area;
* Access to Digital Works, a workforce development program that provides digital job training and placements for individuals, employers, and communities;
* Access to the Connected Community Engagement Program, which has helped more than 300 communities across the United States;
* Better broadband mapping services to encourage smarter investment when planning infrastructure expansion; and
* Form 477 Data Collection for providers to help meet the requirements put in place by the Federal Communications Commission.

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